If a trip to New Caledonia is on the cards for this year, here are our suggestions of the five free things to do while you’re there.
1.Check out the view
Admire the breathtaking views of Nouméa, including the surrounding bays and lagoons, while also learning about the local military history!
A good vantage point is Ouen Toro (132m) at Anse Vata. This hill covers an area of 60 hectares and is a haven for walkers and joggers who can take advantage of its numerous well-marked tracks. Located in the heart of town, it can be reached by a road that winds 1.5km to the summit, where two cannons stand guard. These are leftovers from an Australian artillery unit stationed on Quen Toro for seven months during WWII. From the top you can see all of Anse Vata, the nearby islands, a small-red-white lighthouse and, farther to the south, the larger lighthouse of Amedee Islet. Walking tracks weave around the hill and are popular among locals.
Another easy climb is Mont Tereka, a 127m-high hill affording an exquisite view of the turquoise bay and a revolting vista of the port. Situated to the northeast of centre-ville on the Nouville peninsula, the remnants of this colonial fort were converted into a tourist lookout in the 1980’s. The views back to the city, Baie de Kuendu below and out to the reefs are stunning and worth the short drive from the capital.
2.Visit the morning markets and taste the local products
The Port Moselle Market is open daily from 5 to 11am (except Mondays). Here you will find locals shopping for island produce and the day’s freshest catch. Indulge in delicious treats, stock up on fresh natural produce, try gourmet products and find unique arts and crafts. Be sure to take some time out and enjoy a steaming espresso and a warm buttery pain au chocolat at the café in the centre of the market place.
Swim in a natural aquarium
If you’ve ever wondered what fish in an aquarium feel like, then don your bathers and head to the Piscine Naturelle on the Île des Pins. Discovered by Captain Cook in 1774, the island itself is populated with large conifer trees, hence the name. Thousands of fish in all colours and sizes inhabit the natural underwater rock pool and they’re only too happy to swim on by as you marvel at their beauty. This is a must for anyone visiting New Caledonia that loves marine life and it’s a short 20-minute flight or 2.5 hours by speedboat from Nouméa.
3.Make the most of the largest lagoon in the world
Discover Noumea’s popular beach spots, such as Anse Vata and Baie de Citrons (Lemon Bay).
Anse Vata is the city’s largest beach and the more chic of the two. The sheltered Baie des Citrons has a ‘family’ tag and is good when it’s too windy at Anse vata.
With a number of hotels only a stone’s throw away from the shore line, grab your snorkel and explore the crystal clear waters, enjoy leisurely strolls along the beach, sunbathe or chose among the numerous watersport activities around Noumea. Kite surfing, wind surfing, jet ski, surfing, diving, etc. There is something for everyone!
More remote and secluded than both these beaches is Anse Kuendu. Right at the tip of the Nouville peninsula, Kuendu cove offers an attractive, sandy beach with a pleasant and shady grassed area. This is a very popular spot with Noumeans during weekends.
With so many beaches to choose from, everyone has a favourite – these are just a few of the beautiful beaches waiting to be discovered. If you think you’ve seen them all, even more remote island beaches abound for intrepid explorers.
4.Take a walk on the wild side
Enjoy the French Riviera atmosphere and Pacific vibe of Noumea by exploring its beautiful bays and vibrant neighbourhoods.
Noumea has various architectural styles with quaint wooden cottages existing alongside art deco properties from the 1930s and the cylindrical volumes and flat roofs of the sixties. Take a stroll around New Caledonia’s oldest neighbourhood Faubourg Blanchot for colonial mansions and the districts of the Vallée du Tir and Vallée des Colons for simple wooden cottages and colonial homes adorned with pretty ironwork and flowering gardens of hibiscus and bougainvillea. Download the guide – Faubourg Heritage Trail
Stroll Pierre Vernier Promenade: a waterside walkaway favoured by joggers and cyclists. It skirts the base of Ouen Toro, and then continues for 3km to Faubourg Blanchot. Admire the old colonial buildings and streets lined with coconut palms.
Anse Vata Beach is a good all-round beach where you can take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, watch wind surfing and enjoy an ice cream in lemon Bay that is right next door.
5.Work on your tan
If you’re heading to an exotic Pacific Island like New Caledonia, chances are you’re looking forward to gaining a superb golden tan. Whether you prefer lying in the sun at the pool, beach or grassy lawn, you can soak up some nice hot sunrays during your New Cal vacation.
If you prefer gaining your tan while being active outdoors, you can do that while kayaking, surfing, snorkelling or strolling the beach.
Don’t forget the sunscreen though!
And, if you want to know what to pack for your trip, check out this quick video.
Find out more about all that New Caledonia has to offer.
How well do you know New Caledonia? Did you get all the questions right and give yourself a chance to win a $200 Flight Centre voucher towards your trip to New Caledonia?
Here are the answers:
Q1. Where is New Caledonia?
In the south west Pacific Ocean
Q2. What is the capital?
Q3. Which is the official language?
Q.4 What is the national dish?
Do you want to know who won?
Congratulations to Bev from Baulkham Hill, NSW who will very soon be enjoying her own island getaway.